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Crime Writing
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Table of Contents

Introduction What this book is - and isn't 15 1 Poisons: General Principles 17 What is a poison? 17 Getting it into the body 17 Getting it out of the body 19 Half life 20 Acute versus chronic 21 Case study: Thallium at home and work 21 Tolerance 21 A fatal dose 22 LD50 23 How do they work? 23 Working together 24 Antidotes 24 Delayed action 25 Carcinogens 25 Biological agents 26 Radioactive poisons 28 Getting hold of poisons 29 Writing poisons (1) 33 2 Poisons: Specific Substances 35 Abrin 35 Case study: Abrin purchase 35 Aconitine 36 Case study: a killer curry 37 Arsenic 37 Atropine 38 Case study: A toxic tonic 39 Botulinum toxin 40 Carbon Monoxide 41 Case study: The deadly dentist 42 Chlorine 43 Case study: (Nearly) kicking the bucket 44 Cyanide 45 Case study: A terminal headache 46 Digitalis 47 Case study: Suicide by Foxglove 48 DNP 48 Case study: Slimming pill fatality 48 Fungi 49 Case study: Somerset Death Cap 49 Gelsemium 50 Case study: Poisoned cat stew 51 Hemlock 52 Case study: Death in Maine 53 Insulin 53 Case study: Murder on the ward 54 Muscle relaxants 55 Case study: A poisoned politician 56 Nerve agents 56 How nerve agents work 57 Case study: Sarin underground 57 Case study: Novichok in Wiltshire 58 Nicotine 59 Case study: Lethal injection 61 Opiates and opiods 61 Case study: The lethal GP 63 Palytoxin 63 Pesticides 63 Case study: Poison in Essex 65 Phosgene 65 Potassium chloride 66 Case study: A killer nurse 66 Ricin 66 Case study: Pellets of poison 68 Strychnine 68 Tetrodotoxin 69 Thallium 70 Writing poisons (2) 71 3 Producing Unconsciousness 73 The Basics 73 Chemical Methods 73 Chloroform 74 Case study: The Chloroforming Lab Tech. 75 Chloral Hydrate 77 Midazolam 77 Case study: Rape and manslaughter 79 Ketamine 79 Other anaesthetics 80 Case study: Vet in the frame 81 Date rape drugs 81 Case study: The Black Cab Rapist 83 Case study: Rape and murder 84 Spice 85 Psychedelics 85 Over the counter 85 Asphyxiants 86 Case study: Christie and carbon monoxide 86 Mass anaesthesia 86 Case study: Death at the Theatre 87 Sources of supply 88 Non-chemical methods 89 Writing knockouts 92 4 Explosives and Explosions 93 What makes an explosive? 93 Low explosives 93 High explosives 93 Primary, secondary and tertiary 94 Propellants 95 Gas explosions 95 Case study: An industrial explosion 96 Dust explosions 96 Plastic explosive 96 Shaped charges 97 Detonating cord 97 High Explosive or Incendiary Bomb? 98 The Components of a Bomb 98 Handling and defusing 99 Grenades 100 The effects of explosions 100 Shrapnel 102 Case study: Shrapnel in Soho 102 Nuclear explosives 102 Individual explosives 103 Detection 106 Legal issues 107 Controlled explosives precursors 108 Availability and practicality 108 Case study: Bombs in Devon 109 Writing explosives 109 5 Fires 111 The Fire Triangle and Tetrahedron 111 Smoulder versus flame 112 Ignition 112 Case study: Sparking cat 113 Spontaneous Combustion 114 Fire development 116 Effects of fire on buildings 117 Effects on people 118 Fire investigation 119 Accelerants 121 Case study: Tragedy in Derby 122 Incendiary devices 122 Incendiary errors 123 In conclusion 125 Writing fire 125 6 Firearms 127 What is a firearm? 127 Calibres 127 The cartridge 128 Bullets 129 Rifles 130 Automatic weapons 131 Case study: Slaughter in Las Vegas 132 Shotguns 133 Revolvers 133 Semi-automatics 134 Case study: A royal jam 135 Airguns 135 Air cane 137 Dart guns 137 Starting pistols 138 Plastic pistols 138 Reactivated weapons 139 Flying lead 139 Range 140 Penetration 141 Realistic imitation firearms 141 Getting shot 142 Forensic aspects 144 Not-so-silent killers 144 Getting a gun 146 Case study: Zorakis 148 Case study: Armed paedophile 149 Hollywood howlers 149 Writing firearms 151 7 Weapons and Tactics 153 Part 1: Means of murder Electricity 153 Case study: Fatal bath 154 Case study:Air embolism 154 Case study: Deadly deacon 155 Crossbows 155 Knives 156 Statistics 156 Blunt instruments 158 Give us a brake 159 Strangulation 160 Suffocation 161 Exploiting allergies 161 Part 2: Escaping and fighting back 162 Breaking out 162 Fighting back 163 Home discomfort 165 The legal position 166 Writing attacks and escapes 167 8 After the Event: Body Disposal and Cleanup 169 Part 1: Cadavers 169 Handling 169 Dismemberment 170 Case study: Murder in Muswell Hill 171 Burial 171 Landfills 173 In the house 173 Fire 174 Acids and alkalis 175 Case study: The acid bath murderer 175 Watery graves 178 Case study: Unexpected preservation 179 Exotic ideas from fiction 179 Part 2: Traces left behind 179 Cleaning up blood Cleaning up DNA 181 Concluding points 182 Writing disposal and cleanup 183 9 DNA 185 Part 1: The Basics What is DNA? 185 Collecting DNA 186 Analysis 187 Case study: The first conviction 189 Timings 189 Mixtures of DNA 190 Case study: Interpretation errors 190 Cold cases and sample storage 190 Predicting appearance 191 Case studies: Right and wrong 192 Familial matches 192 Case study: M3 manslaughter 193 Mitochondrial DNA 193 Low copy number 194 Part 2: Interpretation and complications Identity 194 Background DNA 195 Secondary transfer 195 Persistence 195 How did it get there? 196 Contamination 196 Case study: Laboratory error 197 Writing DNA 197 10 A Forensic Miscellany 199 Preamble 199 Chemical analysis 200 Spot testing drugs 200 False positives 201 Residues and records 202 Drugs and driving 203 Portable spectrometers 203 Ionic errors 204 Down on the body farm 204 Botanical barcodes 205 Fingertip sex 206 Chemical lifestyle profiling 206 Vein pattern analysis 207 Faking fingerprints 207 Fingerprints' pore relations 208 Dodgy documents 208 Forensic gait analysis 209 Gunshot audio 209 Mistakes and reliability 210 Misinterpretation 212 Case study: A doubtful particle 213 Misconduct 214 Writing forensics 215 References and Further Information 217 Fiction works cited in the text 249 Film and television references 251 Glossary 253 Index 257

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The author will be conducting radio interviews and reviews are arranged for national newspapers.

About the Author

Brian Price is a Chartered Chemist and Chartered Biologist who probably reads and watches more crime fiction than is healthy. He also has many years' experience of environmental issues and is always keen to advise on environmental crime plots. He has advised several authors and also the BBC on scientific issues and is a published technical author.

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